Rape culture needs to stop

Some people laugh about it, they mock it, and claim it’s a myth. But Lynn Cohen says rape culture exists.


Dylan Morgan touching Kaylee Elizabeth in an unwanted way.

Cohen, counselor and public education coordinator of Durham Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC), says rape culture must end.

“As a society we don’t recognize the seriousness and the long term impact of rape,” says Cohen.

According to Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW), rape culture is defined as, “the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.”

Women are not the only ones who experience rape culture, says Cohen. Men do as well, she says, adding males who have been sexually abused face their own sort of rape culture.

Cohen gives the example that males are often called gay if they are raped by another man, and will be seen as weak. Some will even claim it’s not rape because the male was erect.

But that’s not necessarily the case, says Jade Harper, executive director of Victim Services of Durham Region.

“Anyone can be sexual assaulted,” says Harper. “It’s about power and control.”

However, there are some who believe rape culture doesn’t exist.

Roosh Valizadeh also known as Roosh V, is an American writer who has not been welcomed in cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa because of his speeches against feminists, decriminalizing rape and rape culture. Cohen says the only way to speak to people like Roosh V is to educate them.

“People choose to believe what they want to or what suits them,” says Cohen, “although what we can do is create awareness or conversations, and take a look around at the world we live in.”

In society, rape culture is found in many places including the media, according to Cohen. She says we live in a culture and society that allows and encourages the objectification of women in mass media and pop culture.

She says it’s something that can be seen all over commercials. She gives the examples of a Viagra commercial that features only women and a commercial for suits that shows one man in a suit surrounded by women in bikinis. She says the objectification of women creates an environment that supports rape culture.

“It’s just sex, she didn’t get beaten up, she’s not killed.” These are things Cohen says people often say regarding rape. She says it makes the survivors of rape not want to talk.

Harper, who doesn’t subscribe to the term rape culture, says many survivors repress their experience of rape because they fear rejection and embarrassment.

Each victim “shares a sense of having lost control of their lives,” says Harper, adding rape survivors feel shame and self-blame. Cohen says she has to constantly remind survivors that it doesn’t matter how they were dressed, because it was the perpetrator who made the decision regardless.

Cohen explains society teaches women to not get raped, but doesn’t teach men not to rape. She says society teaches women it’s not OK to wear short skirts and it’s not OK to drink too much. It leads to victim blaming, because it puts the onus on the victim. Cohen says there is a huge double standard. If a man got drunk, and walked outside and was hit by a driver, he would not be accused of being reckless. Nevertheless, a woman will still get blamed and shamed after being raped, Cohen explains.

Femifesto, a grassroots feminist organization based in Toronto, says on its website that one of the ways to end rape culture is to change the conversation. The website shows ways journalists and the media can talk about rape culture to help end it.

Another way to end rape culture is to teach children about it. Cohen goes to schools to talk to children. She teaches that individuals have the right to consent to sexual behaviour, and sex isn’t something that should be done because of guilty feelings.

“Slowly but surely societal norms will change,” says Cohen. Rape culture is something that has taken centuries to develop, but won’t end overnight, she adds.  However, she believes, with help it will end.


If you believe you or anyone you know is being victimized please call: 905-579-1520 ext.3400
or contact: Jharper@drps.ca

They are a separate entity than the police.

Also if you are a survivor of rape or sexual abuse and need support you can contact DRCC’s 24 Hour crisis and support line: 905-668-9200

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Dean Daley is a second year student journalism student at Durham College. He is also a digital editor for The Chronicle. He enjoys writing about campus, community, technology news and video games news. His hobbies include writing creative short stories and poetry, reading, playing video games and learning about the newest mobile technology.


  1. Well written article on a serious issue. Thank you for bringing light to this sitiuation. I agree, rape culture needs to stop; and it starts with educating both men and women on victim blaming!